2013 Archery Elk Hunting — Taking A Spike at 35 Yards

Real Tree Xtra Camo Elk Hunting

Sitting/standing in the spot where I shot my spike elk.

Trying out Real Tree Xtra camo for the first time on this hunt. I like the pattern however my favorite camo pattern is still Real Tree Max-1.


My 2013 Spike Elk Taken with a Browning Adrenaline Bow

My 2013 spike elk taken with my custom Browning Adrenaline bow (I placed longer limbs on the bow and made custom strings to give me a 32 1/2" draw length), QuikSpin Speed Hunter vanes, GoldTip Series 22 shafts and Rocket Stricknine broadhead.


Alps Pathfinder with Spike Elk

I use the heck out of my Alps Pathfinder pack. It is a very versatile hunting pack and in comes in Max-1 my favorite camo pattern.


Sticknine broadhead entry hole on elk

After boning out one side of the elk I flip it over to see the entry hole made by the Rocket Sticknine broadhead.


Bloody QuikSpin ST Speed Hunter arrow vanes.

Here's the the back half of my arrow the elk broke off when he ran. It shows my favorite arrow vanes, QuikSpin Speed Hunters.


Pack Wheel game cart with Spike Elk

Back with my Pack Wheel game cart ready to start boning out the elk meat.


One side of Pack Wheel loaded with elk meat.

Half of the elk meat loaded in a Pack Wheel Pannier ready to load the second half.


Pack Wheel game cart loaded with spike elk

The whole elk boned out and loaded on the Pack Wheel ready to haul it off the mountain. 133 pounds of meat and a 20 pound head (I forgot my saw to cut the antlers off so I had to take the whole head. The antlers might make for some cool knife handles some day.)


The first two weeks have just been incredibly hot. Not unlike my experience hunting the Wasatch Limited Entry Unit last year. I highly dislike hunting in the extreme heat. I really wish that the Utah archery elk season was at least two weeks later.

With the extreme heat I think the elk have no been moving around much. I can see it from the activity or should I say lack of activity on my trail cameras. The elk just aren't moving around like they were back the first of July.

Friday even I headed back up the mountain to see what I could find. I decided to go into the area that I had moved a trail camera to watch a muddy spring area. I checked the three cameras that are in that general area and found some really cool videos of a small five point bull that plops down in the mud right in from of the Browning Recon Force trail camera (see video below). The bull wallowed in the mud the night before I got there so I decided to sit on that spring for the evening.

Nothing came in Friday evening so in the morning I headed for my ambush location were elk like to walk past in the morning hours. Nothing passed my ambush however a large bull came down a trail about 150 yards from me and turned down the wrong trail or I might have been able to get him. Dang it!

I forced myself to wait until noon just encase the large bull I saw got up and moved up to get water and bed down in a cooler area. At noon I slowly moved around the mountain and over to the muddy spring. It was a hot one and the sweat was a poring as I worked my way around the mountain.

I took a small collapsible shovel in my Alps Pathfinder pack. When I got to the muddy spring I used the shovel to help make the muddy spot where the 5x5 bull had wallowed two nights prior into a larger pocket. I was amazed that the bull wallowed right in front of the camera so I thought I might encourage more bulls to do the same and see if I can get them on the camera.

At 35 yards to the right of the wallow I setup with my back against a maple tree. Being one o-clock I tried to get a little rest but the flies and ants did a good job on crawling all over my face and hands keeping me awake. By four o-clock I stood up and rested my back against the tree.

Around seven o-clock I heard something to my right and I watched two spikes working their way through the trees. They weren't exactly what I would have preferred to shoot but I really could use the elk meat this year. I didn't draw cow elk tag and I knew that Dallen would be "trophy" hunting with his tag coming up in a couple weeks so elk meat was elk meat and spikes always taste great. With this in mind I decided to see if I could encourage the spikes to come down to the spring. A couple cow calls and they turned and started circling down and around the spring. Oops they went a little to far. After they were out of sight for a few minutes I gave one soft high pitched calf call and back they appeared this time headed straight for the spring. As they got within a couple yards of the spring they stopped broadside and I zipped a 463 Grain, Series 22 shaft tipped with a Rocket Stricknine broadhead through his shoulder. He ran about 30 yards and tipped over.

The shot placed a good one inch entry hole through the shoulder just behind the joint that articulates forward. The arrow then angled back and stopped against the rib cage behind the opposite shoulder. I really like the combination of QuikSpin ST Speed Hunter vanes, the original heavy Series 22 Goldtip shafts (that they don't make anymore), and Rocket Sticknine expandable broadheads that have a huge cutting diameter. I have been very sucsessful with this combination for years.

After a few quick photos I hiked back out to get my Pack Wheel game cart. Buy the time I returned it was well after dark. While boning out the meat I was surprised at the amount of blood shot tissue that was all around the shoulder that the arrow entered. It looked similar to a rifle shot. I was able to get 133 lbs of meat. I could have gotten another 5 to 10 lbs around that shoulder but I wasn't going to eat that nasty looking bloody meat.

I loaded up the Pack Wheel Panniers full of meat onto the Pack Wheel and off the mountain I went. Aside from going over several large downed trees I used little to no effort hauling the whole elk in one trip back to my Montero in no time.

One might ask with all the time I have spent scouting and using trail cameras this summer why would I shoot a spike? When it comes to elk I primarily hunt for meat. Our family loves elk meat. Also Dallen, my oldest son has a youth elk tag this year, right after the archery season ends his hunt starts. This has been my primary goal for learning what elk are in the area and their movements. Dallen is more of a trophy hunter than I think I am and I want him to have a great experience. He has passed a few bucks and bulls in his early hunting years. With me getting a spike this really helps our family out with keeping the freezer full of meat as we generally go through two full elk a year and Dallen can hold out for a big one without me putting pressure on him to shot something he doesn't want to.

The trail cameras really have paided off for me in knowing which spring the elk generally came to in the evenings and which areas they generally went through in the mornings. Using several trail cameras in an area really teach you a lot about the movements and patterns of the game in the area you are hunting.

Now I can focus on Dallen's youth elk hunt.


2013 Archery Elk Hunting — First Week Of The Hunt

Cow and calf elk on Browning Recon Force Trail Camera

Two cows, two calves and a spike elk pass my ambush location one night when I wasn't there.


My ambush site for elk

Sitting in my ambush spot waiting for elk to pass by at 13 yards.


Leupold RX-100i Range Finder bow hunting

A Leupold RX-1000i range finder. I like this little range finder with a Bow mode and it fits perfectly on my Browning Bino Hub.


Browning Recon Force trail camera and trail camera mount wrapped around a cluster of small trees.

The only trees near this muddy spring was a cluster of really small ones. I was able to use the Browning trail camera mounting bracket and cinch it around several of these small trees and made a pretty darn solid location for the camera to watch the spring.


With the heat, lack of vacation time and the lack of elk that I have seen on the trail cameras the past couple of weeks, I decided it best to save my vacation to hunt when the elk are talking more. I only went out elk hunting on the opener and the following Friday and Saturday.

Friday and Saturday I decided to sit in an ambush site I had picked out while scouting. The 5x6 with shed velvet walked right past this ambush the day before opening day. The site provides a great place for me to shoot an elk as it walks past at 13 yards. Unfortunately nothing passed my ambush Friday night and Saturday morning while I sat for many hours each time.

Saturday around noon I started rounding up all the SDHC cards from all the cameras to see what activity had taken place the first week of the hunt. From reviewing the videos on the trail cameras there still wasn't much activity however there was a cow and calf the show up from time to time on the cameras. In fact Friday evening while I was sitting in my ambush location the cow and calf were captured on camera about 200 yards to the south of me. I would shoot a cow if she didn't have a calf with her.

After reviewing the trail camera video footage on the mountain on my Galaxy S3 phone I decided to move one of the cameras to watch a spring closer to the center of most of the elk activity. (read how I review the cameras photos and video with my S3 phone.)

I just love having the cameras to help me know what is and isn't in the area. Without the cameras watching the area I would be very discouraged with three days of hunting and not seeing or hearing a single elk. Now I would admit there aren't the elk in this area right now like there were in mid July. It's was crawling with elk in July and they all but vanished about the last week of July. I would go elsewhere but the elk in this area have moved into the local giant CWMU and unfortunately that's a no fly zone for average income hunters like myself. Anyways, I really enjoy the extra challenge and the trail cameras are giving me the faith that it will come together either with my archery tag or with Dallen's late September youth elk tag.


2013 Archery Elk Hunting Opening Day — Checking My Trail Cameras

5x6 Bull Elk on Browning Recon Force Trail Camera

This 5x6 bull walked by the camera the day before the opener with his velvet shed. Yes! The elk are still here and I highly dislike velvet.


Huge Wold Spider

I found this huge wolf spider the night before the archery opener. This critter is about the size of the palm of my hand.


Checking the Browning Trail Cameras

This camera captured the nice 3x4 mule deer buck I had the previous time out.


Lots of Ruff Grouse on the mountain this year.

It's nice to see lots of Ruff Grouse on the mountain this year.


Opening day of the archery elk season is finally here. After reviewing the patterns of where the elk had been all summer, thanks to my Browning Trail cameras, I was hopeful to get into some on opening day. Opening day also marked two weeks out from the last time checking my trail cameras so I pulled SDHC cards come mid-day.

The night before the opener found me driving up the mountain in my old Montero. I spent the night across the two front seats of the Montero and awoke early to hiking up into the area I have watched the highest concentration of elk over the summer.

After spending all morning in the baking heat not finding any elk or sign of them to speak of I started hiking to all of my trail cameras to pull the SDHC cards and see what activity was in the area over the past two weeks. As I suspected the elk had all but vanished. Where I had been getting daily elk activity on about three of the cameras there were only a couple of elk passing by in the past two weeks.

The five or more spike elk and the two 4&5 point bulls that had been in the area were not on a single camera. They were all gone. Although the cows and younger bulls had vanished the two largest bulls we had on camera made a couple passes by the cameras. Yes!

The bull that both Dallen and I want to shoot passed by one of my trail cameras the day before the opener with it's velvet already shed. This gave me needed encouragement to get back in there. If I didn't have the trail cameras to show me a little of what is going on in the area I might have completely given up on the area and hunted somewhere else. Thankfully the cameras work great at capturing the activity of the elk.

I'll be back soon.



Young Rubber Boa Snake

Resting in some cliffs while archery elk hunting

These snakes are so cool. This a a very young Rubber Boa. The third Rubber Boa I have found on this mountain while hunting over the years.


Taking a break in some cliffs after hunting the opening morning.


Real Tree Max-1 in black and white

Getting ready to check one of my Recon Force trail cameras

The Real Tree Max-1 looks really good in black and white. Walking up to check one of my Recon Force trail cameras.


A Black Bear on Video! Mounting Trail Cameras to Get The Best View.

Black Bear on a Range Ops Trail Camera

One frame from the video of the Black Bear on the Range Ops trail camera.


Browning Recon Force Trail Camera Canted on Tree

Canting the trail camera to match the incline of the trail it is recording gets the animal better framed in the images and video.

The Browning Trail Camera Tree Mount makes it easy to point the camera the way you need it.

I placed this new camera out today on a trail leading up into the pines.


Red Squirrel Eating Pine Nuts

This Red Squirrel munched on pine nuts next to me while checking the trail cameras. They can rip through a pine cone in blazing speed.


Browning AA Trail Camera Batteries

The Browning AA trail camera batteries look really cool. I'm giving them a try for the first time. (Dec. 2013: These are good batteries and you can view favorite batteries for my trail cameras.)


I got the black bear on video! I have twice had a black bear get captured at night with IR black and white images in weeks past. Two weeks ago I even ran into a bear at 30 yards when I was on my way in checking my cameras. It was a cool and exciting experience. Especially cool because bears are unheard of in this area.

After using the trail cameras for about a month I was sold on the video that the browning trail cameras capture. With every encounter you get you capture so much more with the video than you do with the images. I had hopes that I had captured the bear on one of the cameras two weeks ago but didn't. After setting all my cameras to capture video I had yet to get the bear on the cameras until now.

After reviewing the footage of the black bear it would appear that he smells something he doesn't like. As the bear comes into frame he starts to get more and more nervous, then he eventually turns around (during the 5 second delay between captures) then bolts away running directly away from the camera. He smelled something he didn't like. I just don't see how it could have been the camera. Who knows???

As I spend more and more time working with the trail cameras I have found that I like to rotate the camera to be on the same plain as the trail that the camera is watching. Often my cameras are setup watching a trail that is on an incline. If I set the camera level watching a inclined trail, animals are not in full frame as they cross through the viewing area. On one side I get chopped off legs and on the other side, chopped off antlers. Rotating the camera to be on the same angle as the trail gives me video and images with the animal fully framed all the way across the viewing area.

When the trail cameras are canted on the tree they sure look like they are mounted incorrectly but they capture great footage with the animals fully framed in the viewing area. Unless I mentioned that the image is canted you would never know that the video or image has been canted to match the incline.

With the Browning trail camera tree mounts I have found a couple of different ways that I can mount them on the tree. 1. You can do the typical two straps around the tree. 2. There are two holes in the mounting plate where two quarter inch lag bolts can be used to secure it to the tree. I recommend using the sharp grabbing screw of a tree stand foot peg to bore a pilot hole to use to get the lag bolts to screw into the tree. The lag bolts do not have the sharpest point and are a little difficult to get to start into the tree unless you have a pilot hole to get them started. 3. I have also found using the mounts great for use on small diameter trees by placing the mount sideways across the tree.

I picked up a couple more Recon Force Browning trail cams this week and set them out while checking the others cameras. One new camera I placed on a trail on the edge of heavy dark pines. I would figure that the elk would use this area to transition into the cool bedding areas of the pines. It didn't see any elk sign in the area where I set the camera at. Plenty of deer tracks and some cattle. We'll see in two weeks what is using the trail.

I set the second new Recon force trail camera back in the original location I had a camera along a well used trail in the heavy maple trees. The new location I moved the camera too two weeks ago produced beautiful video of elk and mule deer in the early morning light although I didn't get a lot of elk and deer passing by it. In fact for that matter I got the least number of critters on camera since I started putting them out this summer. I'm not sure what might be changing their habits. Heat, human traffic on the adjacent property, bears???

In two weeks I'll be back out checking the cameras and I will be carrying my bow. :) Hopefully a good bull is hanging around.

Mule Deer Buck Skull

Browning Trail Camera Mount with Lag Bolts

I found this partial piece of a mule deer skull. This was a pretty good buck that died with it's antlers. Lion kill, wounded by a hunter? The highly zigzagging sutures in the skull show this was an older buck.


Here's the Browning Trail Camera Tree Mount securely mounted using 1/4 x 2" lag bolts.


Spike Elk with Recon Force Trail Camera

Cow and calf elk on Recon Force trail camera

Here's a spike elk walking past one of my a Recon Force trail cameras.

This location makes for making beautiful photos in the early morning light.

Here's a cow and calf elk walking past the trail cam.

Mule Deer Buck on Recon Force Trail Camera

Bull Elk on Recon Force trail camera

The best mule deer buck that we have had on the trail cameras. Looks like a big 3x4 with eye guards. This bull elk isn't to shabby. He has really small g5 points budding. If they are long enough or grow more he'll be a 6x6. This might be the same bull  I got on video the last time I checked the camera.



Wow a Black Bear! Checking Trail Cameras — Using a Browning Trail Camera Mount

Black Bear in Trees

One of two photos I got of the Black Bear before it turned and headed out of Dodge.


Black bear I saw while checking trail cameras.

The second of the two photos I got of the bear. You have to use your imagination to fill in the blanks of the big ball of brown fur.


Bull Moose with Browning Range Ops Trail Camera

A bull moose came in and drank for a while on the Spec Ops trail camera.

Broken bracket on a Browning Recon Force Trail Camera

Oops! I broke off one of the mounting brackets. Don't try mounting a Browning Trail Camera to a skinny tree and then try to adjust the angle of it with broken branch shims. Use a trail cam mount.


Browning Recon Force Trail Camera tilted back with tree mount

The Browning Tree Mount makes pointing the Recon Force trail camera in the right direction a breeze.


Browning Recon Force Trail Camera on skinny tree

This is how the Recon Force trail camera looked on the skinny tree before I broke the bracket trying to get the camera to point up the hill.


Browning Trail Camera Mount

Here's the Browning Trail Camera Tree Mount securely mounting horizontally across the skinny tree trunk. The excess webbing is wrapped around the tree many times above and below the mount.


Small creek near elk bedding area

Here's a small creek near a great elk bedding area and close to where I just moved one of my Recon Force trail cameras.


This trip out to check the trail cameras was pretty exciting. Because it takes a good five hours to hike in to check the cameras I headed out a little earlier than normal in hopes of having a little time to work on building Pack Wheel game carts in the afternoon. I normally prefer to check the cameras in the middle of the day to lessen the chance of disturbing game near my trail cameras.

It was about a quarter after nine as I approached the first camera on my hike. As I got about a 100 yards or so away from the camera I startled something that went out to the left and something that went out to the right. I quickly made a Moo sound to see if whatever I spooked would think I was a cow and come back to investigate. Within a few seconds whatever it was that went out to the right came sneaking back in to take a look at me. As I started making out the critter I first thought it was an elk but quickly realized this was no elk. It was a large cinnamon colored black bear. Boy did he look big!

The bear stopped about 30 yards away from me in pretty thick cover and was looking around trying to find the "Moo." Luckily the bear was looking for me a little to my right. This bought me a few seconds to pull out the camera and try to get a few photos. Unfortunately, he only paused briefly then turned and quickly moved back into the timber. I'm guessing I didn't smell like a cow. Anyhow, I tried to get some photos but they are pretty much just a brown ball of fur in the trees.

Now that was cool. Bears have not been a common sight on this mountain. I have captured a bear twice on the trail cameras this summer and now I actually ran into one. Very cool.

After reviewing the video on the trail camera I found that the critter that busted out to the left was a spike elk. The Recon Force camera captured him coming down the trail headed right for me then he hears and or sees me and comes running back past the camera. Seven minutes later after watching the bear I come walking through past the camera. I always like to walk past my cameras when I check them to make sure they are working properly. You can catch the action of the spike and me at the end of the video in this post.

I hoped that one of the cameras this trip out checking them would have the bear on it but after reviewing them none of them did. Maybe next time.

This time in I decided to move DIYHNTR03 a Recon Force trail camera to watch a heavily used trail further up the mountain. The location of this camera has been my most consistent location to get elk on film. Elk are moving past this camera's location daily however so far only spikes and two year old 4 to 5 point bulls. I'm working on getting a few more cameras so for the time being I moved this camera and will probably place another one in this location when I get some more cameras.

I'm sure that once it starts getting close to September and the rut I will start seeing a different variety of bulls come by this location. For now I wanted to check out a see what might be moving in this other location I have been wanting to check.

When I got to the trail I wanted to move the camera to I found my choice of trees to hang the camera on pretty slim. There was one small piece of Oak Brush that was about 2 1/2 inches in diameter that would work. I mounted the camera and fiddled placing sticks between the camera and tree trying to get the angle of the camera pointed upward to watch the trail above. In the process of cinching down the strap to snug it against the tree I busted off one of the strap brackets on the back of the camera. Dang it!

I looked over the small size of the tree and realized that cinching the strap down on a tree this small puts direct strain right on the bracket. On any other normal sized tree the strap would not be pulling directly on the bracket. Also noticed that using pieces of branches as shims to wedge between the camera and tree places more stress directly on the brackets. And I was doing both, small tree and branch shims. Bad combo. Oops!

Luckily I had a Browning Tree Mount with me. I would have used the mount right off the bat with this tree however with the tree so small the teeth on the mount would not grip the tree. Now that I had broke of the bracket I started really thinking of how I has going to get the trail cam mounted on this tree. I realized that I could strap the mount to the tree sideways instead of vertical. I had to crisscross the straps across the back of the tree and the mount secured to the tree nicely.

Once I had the Browning Tree Mount secure on the tree, getting the camera to point in the prefect direction to watch the trail was really easy. My only concern now is that I have had a couple instances where an elk and a moose have came right up and placed their nose on the camera. If this happens with this camera on this mount there is a much greater possibility of the camera being moved to not point in the correct direction. The leverage of the mounting arm could cause the ball joint to slip a little if a elk nudged the camera with it's nose. I tightened up the mount as tight as I could and we'll see what it gets in a couple weeks. Hopefully the critters don't move it around.

In the video at the top of this post I have clips from all four cameras I have out. All three Browning Trail Cameras, Spec Ops, Recon Force and Range Ops trail cameras are shown in this video. All three camera models take great video. I'm really liking the video option over taking images... but it does chew up the batteries a little faster.

On the cameras this time we got lots of cow elk, calf elk, mule deer does, fawns and young bucks. I'm not sure where the large mule deer disappeared to that we had on camera a month ago. We did get a few bull elk and a bull moose. We got the largest bull elk so far. A 5x6 bull that I would guess would score around 260 BC. Dallen and I are hoping he sticks around for September and that he is able to finish growing the G5 point on both antlers. He's not huge but we'll take him. He's larger than either of us has ever taken.

Sadly now I have to wait a couple weeks before I go out to check them again.



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